Alliances, partnerships and integrations between banks and fintechs are increasingly key to offering the best customer experience and and maintaining relevance, according to leaders of various financial institutions in Latin America.
The move towards platformification – or, more humbly, just a greater integration of services – has been in play for some time. But its importance is ever-starker today, with the role of digital banking pushed into the spotlight by the coronavirus pandemic.
Improving the customer experience is one goal of integrating services. For example, the vast number of niche digital financial solutions offered by fintechs could frustrate users, who need to switch apps for each financial task, says Vicente Fenoll, CEO of Mexican fintech Kubo Financiero.
At the same time, institutions can increase their own value to clients by joining others to offer a broader range of services.
Panamanian bank Banistmo, for example, aims to become part of their clients’ “daily life”.
“If we used to compete between banks for the best rate, product or service, nowadays the competition is for attention,” says Diego Ponce, vice president of innovation and digital transformation at Banistmo. “How can I make my user pay more attention to me? So the everyday issue is relevant.”
Mexican bank Citibanamex saw a 5% increase in logins at the start of the pandemic and expects “exponential” growth in the use of digital channels in the coming months. To foster the use of its channels, partnerships with fintechs are key, says Sinead O’Connor, director of digital experience at the bank.
“To strengthen services and improve the customer experience, collaboration with fintech companies is important, to complement our capabilities and help us deliver high-value solutions for users.”
For Fenoll, fintechs have managed to position themselves strategically in the market. Yet their diversification has generated many solutions, but little cooperation between them.
“Fintech companies have become ultra specialized in financial services, but the user has multiple needs,” said Fenoll, during a webinar organized by iupana in conjunction with Mambu.
That means the challenge now for the fintech sector is to develop a multi-product suite that offers a single application to solve all the client’s needs. Otherwise, they will lose the battle for the user who taps “from one app to another” to solve their financial problems.
On the side of traditional institutions, Ernesto del Villar Hernández, CTO and head of innovation at Colombian lender Financiera Dann Regional, says banks will “go from a model where solutions are tied to a company’s product, to one in which digital processes permeate from the inside.”
Fintech companies have covered a good part of the financial spectrum, so del Villar hopes to open conversations with them to “take advantage of that experience and create an ecosystem”, he says.
“A small or medium bank, as in our case, is going to achieve a better and faster presence by making these kind of alliances [with fintech companies].”